Wednesday, September 26, 2007


My last morning in Hawaii, we went into Honolulu to do some sightseeing. After the normal hassle of trying to find a place to park at 8:30am on a workday in a city, we managed to get lucky and find an open meter not far from where I wanted to be.

Our first stop was the court house to see the statue of Kamehameha I. He is the chief who united all of the warring Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom at the turn of the 18th century.

Next was the Iolani Palace. The palace is the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, and was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs - King Kalakaua, who built the Palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Lili`uokalani. The original structure was built in 1845 by King Kamehameha III. It housed five Hawaiian kings before it was demolished in 1874 and replaced by the larger and more modern palace. After the royal government was overthrown, most of the items inside the palace were removed. Slowly, though, some of the items are finding their way back to the palace. Some of the crown jewels are kept in the galleries below the building, along with clothing and other artifacts. Unfortunately, no photographs are allowed inside the palace or galleries. This little tidbit almost started a riot in my tour group, as several people were upset. Normally, even places that don’t allow flash photos will allow non-flash photos. But not at the Iolani Palace.

On the palace grounds are the barracks, coronation pavilion, and crypt.

Iolani Barracks, originally completed in 1871, was designed by architect Theodore Heuck to house the Royal Guard. This coral block structure contains an open courtyard surrounded by rooms once used by the guards as a mess hall, kitchen, dispensary, berth room, and lockup. Following the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the disbanding of the Royal Guard, Iolani Barracks was used at different times as headquarters for the National Guard of Hawaii, temporary shelter for refugees of the 1899 Chinatown fire, a service club, a government office building, and a storage facility. The Barracks was originally located on what are now the grounds of the Hawaii State Capitol. After being dismantled block by block, Iolani Barracks was moved and reconstructed at its present location in 1965.

The Coronation Pavilion was built for the February 12, 1883 coronation of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapi`olani. It was moved from its original site near the King Street steps. The Coronation Pavilion has also been used for the inauguration of the Governors of the State of Hawaii.

In 1825, a royal tomb of white-washed coral block was constructed to house the remains of Kamehameha II and his consort, Queen Kamamalu. Both had died of measles while on a journey to England the year before. For the next forty years, this royal tomb and the land immediately surrounding it became the final resting place for the kings of Hawaii, their consorts, and important chiefs of the kingdom. In 1865, eighteen coffins were removed from this site and transferred in a torchlight procession at night to a new Royal Mausoleum in Nu`uanu Valley. The royal tomb area is marked by a fenced-in mound area out of respect for Hawaiian chiefs who may still be buried there.

The next stop of the morning was the state capitol building, to see the state seal and a statue of Queen Lili`uokalani.

Our final sightseeing stop for the morning was the Kawaiaha’o Chuch, the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii. We couldn’t go in, as a wedding ceremony was occurring and another was either finishing up or getting ready to start, but we did get to wander around the grounds a bit.

The first Christian Church in Hawaii, it was built between 1836 and 1842. Fourteen thousand coral slabs comprise the main structure. These slabs were quarried from under water and transported, and each weighed more than 1,000 pounds. Natives dove 10 to 20 feet to hand-chisel these pieces from the reef, then raised them to the surface, loaded them into canoes, and ferried them to shore. Wood for the interior of the structure was cut from the Ko'olau Mountains.

This is the mausoleum of King Lunalilo, the first elected monarch of Hawaii. He wanted to be buried in the Church cemetery rather than in the Royal Mausoleums.

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